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How to Be Calm When You Feel Like Exploding

By Marlene Houk

Burke CountyMarlene Houk


10, 9, 8, 7, 6….I clicked on the button to start my long-awaited meeting. The microphone worked, but the camera didn’t. Losing all hope of impressing the host, I checked my sound. (She thought I was saying hello.) The audio worked. Now, for the camera. For the life of me, I couldn’t get the camera button to work. Finally, I read the tiny dialog box. “Apparently, you are already using your camera. Shut that application down and retry.” My thinking brain reined in my emotions. Then, I realized that I had tried the videoconferencing platform earlier, just to make sure it worked. I closed the earlier window and then clicked on the camera button. Voila! My interview began…

Today’s world steals the extra margins of emotion and time, and I often indulge in reacting to my problems rather than reconsidering my rationale. The fog of my emotions overshadows my spirit, and the smoke of my feelings obscures my potential to think biblically. God gifts us with emotions, but He also addresses our tendency to allow them to rule over us. Like the fire that warms or kills, emotions enrich our lives but can be destructive.

God helps us to defuse unhealthy emotions by tucking Abigail’s story into 1 Samuel, chapter 25. He shares with us her secret for being calm when the crisis urged her to explode. Her husband was a jerk. He treated the future King David with disdain and arrogance when David asked for food for him and his 600 men. The platoon of soldiers had been hiding from King Saul. As was the custom in ancient oriental lands, neighbors helped each other by protecting their herds from thieves and wild animals. In return, the owner shared his abundancy with them. David and his soldiers had guarded Nabal and his sheep farm for many months. But their food supply had dwindled, and he requested whatever Nabal could provide. But the man refused, sneering at David for attempting to claim God’s promise of kingship to him and accusing him of breaking away from his authority. David erupted in fury, committing to kill Nabal and all his men.

But a servant told Abigail about the crisis, and she responded quickly. Grabbing as much food as she could in a few minutes, she loaded the donkeys, sent the servants ahead with them, and raced to meet David and his soldiers. When she met him, she shows us some simple steps that will help us to be calm when we want to explode. Here is one of them.

1 Samuel 25:30 contains the phrase, “when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken” underscores a powerful truth that prevents me from exploding. The LORD intends good to all that have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Don’t focus on the grinding anxiety of the moment, but on the good that God intends for you.

King David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, encourages us to focus on the Lord’s goodness.

Psalm 16:6 “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 27:13 “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Psalm 31:19 “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!”

Psalm 33:5 “He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”

The lyrical rhythms of these verses soothe our souls and refocus our thinking beyond our current angst to God’s gracious kindness toward us.

Music empowers us to remember the promises of God. I love the fourth verse of Amazing Grace because it reminds me of Abigail’s transforming truth, spoken to David when he was consumed with vengeance.

The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Think about that. Read the Word of God and believe the Lord’s promises for you. Be like King David who, after Abigail’s wise advice, refused to relinquish his sword of truth to the enemy of unbridled anger and chose to realize that God intended good for him. God equipped David with the fortitude to follow Him rather than focus on Nabal’s rejection of him.

Currently, we as a nation are being encouraged to exercise for physical and psychological health. As you consider physical action, practice the following spiritual exercise to lessen life’s frustrations.

Fill in the blank with a current situation that is causing emotional jack-in-the-box reactions. My_________has done this:___________, and I’m about to explode in anger/tears/contempt/disgust. But, let me take a moment to think about all the good that God has allowed in my life and all the future good He has planned for me.

Look again at the verses that King David writes in the Psalms. Do you think he followed Abigail’s advice?


Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at

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